The Strengths and Weaknesses of U.S. PR Firms

Based on our recent survey of 100 U.S. executives about the PR firms they use, we were able to create a quadrant analysis of the key strengths, weaknesses, assets, and vulnerabilities of PR services. This can help firms prioritize their ongoing improvements.

The top right quadrant lists skills and services that respondents ranked above the median in terms of satisfaction and importance. These key strengths were earned media services, writing news releases, marcom, communications support, and answering media queries.

 Weaknesses were high in importance but low in satisfaction. PR firms need to improve valued services such as developing earned-media coverage, social media monitoring, setting up media interviews, and influencer marketing.

Surveys done for PR purposes are another weakness: important to clients but a source of dissatisfaction.

 Assets were ranked above the median in terms of satisfaction but at or below the median in importance. Some of the items that can be considered as assets are networking skills, content creation, and training corporate staff on how to do media interviews.

 Finally, vulnerabilities – on the lower side of both satisfaction and importance – include services and skills such as speaking engagements, writing skills, and crisis management.

Looking at the big picture, 55% of the executives we surveyed are very satisfied overall with the PR firms they use, and 22% are completely satisfied. But this doesn’t always translate to additional business opportunities: only 47% are very or completely likely to purchase additional services from their PR firm.

Researchscape surveyed 100 U.S. executives using an online study fielded from March 8 to April 4, 2017. The survey results were not weighted. Respondents work in a variety of industries, but the professional-services sector was the most common with 26% of respondents. This was followed by finance, insurance, and real estate (15%) and healthcare (9%). Over a quarter (27%) of respondents work at an enterprise, with more than 1,000 employees, while a plurality (34%) of respondents work at a midsized company, with 100-999 employees, and 38% work for a small business, with under 100 employees. A third of respondent’s organizations were B2C (business to consumer). You can download the entire report from this link.


Jeffrey Henning is the president of Researchscape International, which helps PR firms develop thought leadership through survey research.

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